Think of it as an encyclopedia of plants that were once alive. In the West Virginia University Herbarium, you’ll find more than 200,000 vascular plant, bryophyte (including moss) and lichen specimens catalogued, along with thousands of seeds and photographic slides. Since 1889, volunteers and staff have gathered plant specimens, noting location and date, to give a history of plants in West Virginia and elsewhere in the world. The herbarium has the only recorded samples of hundreds of rare and endangered plants and its collection is used for research by the likes of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the National Park Service.
DONNA FORD-WERNTZ Herbarium Curator
Meadow Beauty is a tuberous perennial species of open, moist areas that has been documented from only 14 counties in West Virginia. It was last collected in 2001 in Marion County, but has not been reported for Monongalia County since 1913 (1905 in Preston Co.). The plant has a square stem, opposite leaves and lovely flowers with four magenta petals blooming July to September.
Common Serviceberry is a small tree species that has been documented from all 55 West Virginia counties. The showy five-petaled white flowers appear March to May, before the leaves. Fleshy red-purple fruits in June and July are eaten by birds and can be used for jam and pie. Its fall red-orange leaf color adds landscape appeal to the plant.”
SUE MOYLE STUDLAR Visiting Associate Professor of Biology
Bushy Beard Lichen, Usnea strigosa
Wolf Lichen, Letharia vulpina
“I have encountered these two beautiful, shrubby (fruticose) lichens in nature, and have long been fascinated by their differing appearance, chemistry and ecology. Both evoke memories of hiking high in the mountains where fruticose lichens drink in fog: Bushy Beard in misty Appalachian forests and Wolf Lichen in drier pine forests in the Cascade Mountains.
VICTOR SHIELDS Graduate Assistant
“Climacium is one of my favorite woodland mosses I remember crawling over as a kid near my Pennsylvania home. These little tree-like puffs grow upright in radiating clumps near shaded streams and damp forests throughout Appalachia. Their vibrant wispy branches might even remind you of Dr. Seuss' colorful trees his Lorax tried so adamantly to protect. The herbarium, in addition to native collections like these, houses a number of foreign plants that can be accessed without traveling abroad.
There's a fungus among us. Arbuscular endomycorrhizal fungi help 80 percent of plants on earth stay alive. The largest collection on Earth of these lifesavers is at WVU.Continue Reading
The herbarium in the Life Sciences Building is like an encyclopedia of plants that were once alive.Continue Reading
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WVU started the nation’s first zip canopy tour operated by a university. Get to know the canopy tour from two of our tour guides.Continue Reading